North Gwinnett High senior Trevor Bramblett sorts canned goods on Friday in the school’s media center after North students contributed thousands of canned goods, hygiene products and infant products this week for the Gwinnett Great Days of Service project. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
SUWANEE — Add another item where North Gwinnett High is at the top.
The school currently, or in recent months, is ranked No. 1 in football, Relay for Life fundraising and Advanced Placement scores, added another goal recently: To be No. 1 in donations for the Gwinnett Great Days of Service project.
“We want to be No. 1 in compassion in action,” art teacher Debi West said.
West’s classes, which have 76 students, brought in a school-best 703 items for Great Days that included canned goods, non-perishable boxed food, hygiene products and infant care products. The school’s student council and administrators spent Thursday and Friday sorting the thousands of items stacked in its media center. This is the first year the school exclusively partnered with the North Gwinnett Co-Op to directly donate its contributions locally.
“I want to get to the point where I jump over cans to get to the other side of the room,” West said she told her students. “Do it so you go to bed at night with a smile knowing you helped someone else.”
Put on by the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, the Gwinnett Great Days of Service benefits local nonprofit agencies that provide goods and services to people within the community who are struggling financially or emotionally and need assistance with basic needs such as food, shelter, medical services, prescription drugs and education.
Nicole Love Hendrickson, spokeswoman for the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, said the Great Days benefit has 200 projects this year, and 100 schools in Gwinnett County will contribute to 12 food pantries.
“Every year, the food banks are bare this time of year,” Hendrickson said. “These contributions in October will take them through the end of the year.”
The contributions exceeded expectations at North, and topped last year’s output.
West said she told her students that they could purchase canned goods instead of using money for vending machine snacks. The message especially hit home with one student who convinced her mother to donate a slew of canned goods and a $100 Visa gift card.
“This is my favorite kind of teaching,” West said.
North students and administrators said the connection with the North Gwinnett Co-Op helped spur more donations this year. The project was run through the advisement program, but also had significant involvement from the Student Council and National Honor Society.
“There’s a lot more drive, motivation, collaboration,” senior Ali Azadi said. “Servant leadership is a vital value that needs to be instilled in pretty much everyone in the world. I think this is a good way to plant some of those seeds and develop later in life.”
Assistant principal Kirsten Baker said the North Gwinnett Co-Op gave the school 1,000 door hangers that listed critically needed items that it uses constantly.
This time of year comes before the annual holiday push of donations and the Co-Op is in critical need, Baker said.
“It’s not a traditional giving time,” she said.